AT&T is in hot water over Internet speeds in poverty stricken areas.

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have been taking taxpayer money and subsidies to upgrade their networks. Most of these networks are only somewhat increasing their network capacity. But in the United States, two-thirds of homes lack access to more that one ISP with a speed of 25 Megabits per second (Mbps).  To take out competition ISPs lobbyists have made state laws to prohibit cities and towns from wiring itself to compete with the ISPs.

AT&T is in trouble in Cleveland for not deploying upgrades to low-income areas. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) and a Cleveland-based group Connect Your Community released a report (check the links below) about AT&T’s activities that the NDIA called “digital redlining”. According to the report AT&T was “intentionally only upgrading higher-income customers”.

The map of what this looks like in Cleveland.

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These groups are threatening to sue AT&T, with FCC data and “city construction permits and other information” helping to support their case against AT&T. With these accusations AT&T has this to say on this matter:

“Access to the internet is essential, which is why we’ve continuously invested in expanding service and enhancing speeds,” the AT&T response starts. “The report does not accurately reflect the investment we’ve made in bringing faster internet to urban and rural areas across the U.S. While we are investing in broadband, we’re also investing in technologies that will mitigate some of the infrastructure limitations.”

With FCC Chairman Ajit Pai wanting to make net neutrality die, it seems like we are going to have more cases like this.

Links:

Report of Digital Redlining (PDF)

The Fight for Net Neutrality is at hand…

This week the Federal Communications Commission announced that its proposal to repeal net neutrality will “Restore Internet Freedom for all Americans”. They obviously want to remove the reclassification of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) under Title II to make the Federal Trade Commission regulate the ISPs.  Chairman Ajit Pai thinks that the ISPs can regulate themselves under a system that has no competition. That seems preposterous as most people do not have choice in the matter of ISPs.  There are regional monopolies such as Comcast, Spectrum (formerly Time Warner and Charter), Verizon, and American Telephone and Telegraph (AT&T).  What I see with taking out Title II protection is not giving the American citizens more freedom but less freedom. In a FCC document, the FCC has talked about how rural America does not have access to high-speed Internet access. How about the Federal government subsidizes Internet access for American citizens in rural communities. Because the FCC hasn’t done anything to help the people in the rural communities. There are three principles of net neutrality: the prohibitions of blocking, throttling and paid priority for online traffic.  Chairman Pai wants for ISPs to make voluntary commitments for ISPs to not harm competition.  Many consumer interest groups such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation is against the deregulation of ISPs under Title II. If Chairman Pai is for the free market economics then why is he championing against net neutrality? Net neutrality is based on the free market and for Pai not to support it as a proponent of free market economics is absurd.

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Links

Broadband Availability in America (PDF)

Chairman Pai Speech on the Future of Internet Regulation (PDF)

US broadband: Still no ISP choice for many, especially at higher speeds

What Net Neutrality Rules Say

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai ready to repeal Net Neutrality

Ajit Pai, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman, is working on the job to reverse the Title II reclassification of Internet Service Providers (ISPs). His first strike at trying to reverse the Title II and ISP regulations passed by the former chairman Tom Wheeler and under the Obama Administration is the online privacy regulations that a Republican controlled Congress passed with no support of the Democrats and signed into law by President Trump.

Here is a video by the Verge explaining the rule repeal.

With this repeal Congress is hitting one of the fundamental rights a person can have in America: The Right of Privacy. Imagine that you are talking on the phone and your phone is being tapped and everything you say and do are recorded without your permission and shared with advertisers. This is what ISPs can do without these privacy regulations without your consent and you are paying these people.

Chairman Pai has said in the past that ” he is committed to ensuring an open internet but feels net neutrality was a mistake.” I simply can not see the viewpoint of Chairman Pai because the ideals of an Open Internet is founded in the principles of Net Neutrality, there is no one without the other.

The Net Neutrality rules approved by the FCC under the Obama Administration in 2015 barred ISPs from making “fast lanes” or for selling faster access to certain internet services over others. Chairman Pai wants to overturn those rules and make companies commit in writing to open internet principles. We do not know if ISP can be “legally” compelled to adopting Open Internet principles. As a person who has been watching this issue of net neutrality since 2006, it worries me that we might be living in a world without net neutrality and privacy.  I don’t see how net neutrality and the ideas of the Open Internet is not one whole entity.

Finally, I think Ajit Pai is the wrong person for this job. He has no guts to do what is right and what the consumers want and seems to be bought by the ISP lobby. He used to work for Verizon, the company that hates the idea of net neutrality. He seems like he wants to be for privacy then try to take out privacy. I do not know if he is going to be a good Chairman of the FCC or not.

Further Reading:

Ajit Pai Employment History

Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet Rule of 2015 (FCC)

VPN searches are increasing as Congress repealed Obama-era Protections

As Congress has put into place the repealing of the Consumer protections from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) rules that the FCC put in to protect the consumer from ISPs selling their information without consent. Google searches for Virtual Private Network providers have “skyrocketed” and it seems like the general public is concerned for there own privacy.

In case you do not know, a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is connection that is secured by encryption by a plethora of  different protocols. It makes your connection encrypted and so people who are snooping around for your data on a open or closed network get data that is scrambled and not useful.

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The search frequency for VPN from April 2012 to March 2017.

Because of the scare that the people of the United States that there own privacy can be sold to the highest bidder without their own consent, the people are trying to protect their privacy by encrypting their own traffic so the ISPs can not sell their data. Through this data I can see that the public did not want this bill to be passed. Next time we vote we should look at the record and the conscience of the people who are representing us. This is a war on our privacy, that we do not want to have but we will anyway. Lastly, find a solid VPN choice and protect yourselves against the ISPs from snooping your data.

PRIVACY IS UNDER ATTACK! Senate votes to take down privacy rules against ISPs

The Senate voted on Thursday to pass a joint resolution to block the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) on enforcing rules that would protect the American consumer against Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from selling consumer information without the consent of the consumer.  These rules were made under the Obama Administration and with Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to protect consumer privacy.

Privacy advocates like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) are up in arms about the resolution. Neema Singh Guliani of the ACLU talked about how the Senate is willing to “sacrifice the privacy rights of Americans in the interest of protecting the profits of major internet companies, including Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.” Kate Tummarella, a privacy analyst for the EFF said this “would be a crushing loss for online privacy”. “ISPs act as gatekeepers to the Internet, giving them incredible access to records of what you do online,” Tummarello said. “They shouldn’t be able to profit off of the information about what you search for, read about, purchase and more without your consent.”

This joint resolution has no bearing in Americans lives until it passes in the House and be signed by President Trump. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai was welcoming to the Senate vote saying, “My own core goal is to make sure that [the] uniform expectation of privacy is vindicated through the use of a regulatory framework that establishes a more level playing field.” That is a weird thing to say as the Republicans are trying to take away the FCC’s power to help regulate industries and help the consumer. We live in weird times in which we do not know if the aspect of Internet privacy can survive.

The Senate Joint Resolution 34 Full [PDF]

Federal Communications Commission shoots down privacy rules

On October 2016, a set of privacy rules on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) was passed and set to be enacted on March 2nd,2017. But as the day was coming near, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), under the new chairman Ajit Pai suspended the new privacy rules.

The rules were to protect consumers data from being sold to third parties without the consumers knowledge. Another part of the privacy rules is that is also requires ISPs to implement “reasonable measures” to protect against cyber threats.Without these rules the ISPs can use our data for commercial purposes and profile us.

The FCC argues that ensuring privacy on the Internet should be done in a different way with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). “We still believe that jurisdiction over broadband providers’ privacy and data security practices should be returned to the FTC, the nation’s expert agency with respect to these important subjects. All actors in the online space should be subject to the same rules, enforced by the same agency. ”

This still stands to reason how the consumer’s privacy can be protected  and if the FCC is for the consumer or the industry.

FCC Press Release

FCC’s statement on a unified policy framework.

YouTube TV Announced

YouTube just announced a new streaming over the top (OTT) service called YouTube TV this week. This service includes the over the air broadcasters (ABC, CBS,NBC, and FOX), ESPN, regional sports networks and other cable networks.  This is meant to go up against Sling TV, Playstation Vue, and DIRECTV Now for a competitive price of 35 dollars a month.  For that price it gives you six accounts, unlimited cloud dvr, and up to three concurrent streams at a time and the ability to access YouTube Red content included.

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YouTube TV Sign up page

But there are a lot of concerns about the content of the service because there is no channels from Viacom or Turner Broadcasting. So no MTV, CNN, TBS, TNT or Comedy Central on the service. But  maybe with time they will reach agreements to include them later in their service. This is a good first step from YouTube in launching their service but as the competition against OTT providers can YouTube compete with the other providers as Hulu is about to release another OTT service. No word on when the service will go live but it is expected to be coming the next couple months.  If you want more information checkout the link below.

 

LINKS

YouTube TV Information page.

AT&T testing new drone network delivery systems.

With AT&T, they make COWs fly. Not those cows, but a new technology called a flying cell-on-wings (COW). They are drones that are a truly mobile cell phone tower when there is none or when disaster strikes. This is not the first time the company has used drones according to AT&T’s website they have used drones in the past to inspect cell sites and measure network strength in sports stadiums. The COWs are made to beam LTE coverage to customers in the air.

The COW works by having a small cell and antennas and connected to the ground by a fiber tether that gives power and data to the drone so that it can be up there for a long time. The COWs signal then goes to satellites to transport network utilities to the AT&T network.  Pilots are always monitoring the drone to make sure everything is working flawlessly. AT&T says that “the flying COW can operate in extremely remote areas where wired or wireless infrastructure is not immediately available.” The COW can potentially fly over 300 feet in the air, which is “about 500% higher than a traditional cell-on-wheels mast.

The future seems to be in the air for new technology that can impact our world. As drones become more cost effective, I can see drones doing more and more new things in the way of innovation. New technology is making things that would have seemed like science fiction into becoming reality.

 

 

LINKS

AT&T’s Blog Post

 

FCC Chairman Pai and FM Radio in Smartphones

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai talked at the North American Broadcasters Association’s Future of Radio and Audio Symposium in Washington D.C. yesterday talking about radio and how it impacts communities. Pai talked about how radio is “Social,local,mobile, and vital” to communities. Pai then talked about how there are FM radio receivers in smartphones. Pai made an important point about smartphones, “It seems odd that every day we hear about a new smartphone app that lets you do something innovative, yet these modern-day mobile miracles don’t enable a key function offered by a 1982 Sony Walkman.”

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Chairman Pai also made an appeal for the activation of these FM radio receiver chips on public safety grounds alone. Pai talked about how the FCC has an advisory panel for public safety issues that has advocated for this action to take place. “It pointed out that, “[h]aving access to terrestrial FM radio broadcasts, as opposed to streaming audio services, may enable smartphone users to receive broadcast-based EAS alerts and other vital information in emergency situations—particularly when the wireless network is down or overloaded.” “, He said. He talked about how consumers wanted to “access some of their favorite content over-the-air, while using one-sixth of the battery life and less data”. Pai spoke out at the conference for “the benefits of activating FM chips”, but also said “as a believer in free markets and the rule of law, I cannot support a government mandate requiring activation of these chips.” He also talked about how he thinks that the FCC does not have the power to issue a mandate to phone companies, and that he said that, “it’s best to sort this issue out in the marketplace”.  He ended with talking about how as a FCC Chairman, Pai will not neglect radio and try to “modernize” radio rules and how he does not want to go into “putting my  thumb on the scale for any segment of the communications industry. Instead, I see it as my job to ensure a level regulatory playing field.”

Sources:

Official FCC Release of Chairman Pai’s Speech

National Association of Broadcasters (Where I got the graph)